In September, 2007, Mary-Louise Parker adopted a child from an orphanage in Ethiopia. The child’s Uncle walked a distance that Parker stated she would complain if she had to travel to in a car. The journey was made with his children, three of which were under 10. The baby was carried on his hip. This excerpt is from a letter written by Parker (“Dear Uncle“) as a tribute to him. In their first meeting, he said: “I hope that she will be taken care of, go to school and perhaps one day be something, a doctor.”
There are so many reductive adjectives used to describe those materially less fortunate, words the privileged use to anoint them. Words like proud, or graceful…It never rings true. Having seen what I saw when you brought me to the hut where my daughter was born, and introduced me to the people in your village, I felt like I was hovering over every judgment of my reality and yours, unable to land. None of the families I met were intact, everyone had lost children, parents, or a spouse. There was not enough of anything for anyone. The only bounty was in categories of suffering or possible ways to die. I didn’t feel them looking at me with distance, they all smiled and shook my hand.
I hid my embarrassment at how stupid I felt when I entered your hut and was alarmed by the darkness that swallowed me despite it being late morning. Of course I knew there was no electricity, no light would be there except for what might creep in through that ceiling of straw. I knew it, but I couldn’t fathom it until I stood inside with you and stared at an actual nothingness and my eyes adjusted to near black. There is nothing, and there is not one bloody thing. As you pointed at different parts of the hut that were designated for the cows to sleep, or the spot where your family of twelve eats when there is food, or where you slept, I saw spots with absolutely nothing in them. There was an absence of comment on your situation that made you seem twenty feet tall. It’s something I could never know if I hadn’t stood there, with you showing me what life is like on another planet where there is no complaining, or showing disappointment. [Read more…]
Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.
~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment
A brisk walk to catch the 5:40 train to Grand Central.
28º F. Cold. Can’t touch me.
Running on a four hours sleep. Can’t feel it.
Dark. Spring forward. Fall back. Fall back into darkness, on both ends of the work day.
But today, light beams.
A scheduled vacation week. And here you are, Day 2 of vacation and off to work again.
And, looking forward to the day.
I find an open two-seater in the Quiet Car.
I lean my head against the window, close my eyes, and replay last night. [Read more…]
After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—
In the days after Paris, Emily Dickinson’s poem kept ringing through my mind as I tried to figure out what I felt—and, surprisingly, didn’t feel. I did not, as the facts emerged and the story took its full size, feel surprised. Nor did I feel swept by emotion, as I had in the past. The sentimental tweeting of that great moment in “Casablanca” when they stand to sing “La Marseillaise” left me unmoved. I didn’t feel anger, really. I felt grave, as if something huge and terrible had shifted and come closer. Did you feel this too?
I feel certain that in the days after the attack people were thinking: This isn’t going to stop.
~ Peggy Noonan, Uncertain Leadership in Perilous Times
Image: The Economist
All the candles
burning down to the metal,
the radiator singing its dumb water song.
in my lungs.
out of me.
did it get so cold?
The most notice thing about Angelina Jolie Pitt —apart from her almost preternatural physical presence—is that nearly everywhere she goes she turns up more or less unattended (unless, of course, you count husband Brad Pitt and their brood of six). Arriving for an interview at a West Hollywood hotel suite to promote By the Sea, her upcoming movie with Pitt, she’s trailed only by a lone bodyguard—she doesn’t employ a manager or even a publicist. […]
According to King, Jolie Pitt’s attention to detail extends well beyond wardrobe. When she first approached him about In the Land of Blood and Honey, she was “extraordinarily well prepared,” he says. “She turned up in my office with the location, photos, storyboards, casting information…He also came to admire her “hands-on” approach. “Whether it’s interviews, photo shoots or directing films, she gets involved herself,” he says. “Angie does not send people into meetings. There’s no manager or agent, no PR. When I first met her I couldn’t believe how accessible she was.” […]
In her teens, Jolie Pitt suffered from depression, which she attributes in part to her “unhealthy” hometown. “I grew up in L.A., where focus is very inward. I didn’t know why I was so destructive and miserable. I didn’t appreciate or understand my life.” Her unhappiness was further compounded by guilt. “I was raised in a place where if you have fame and money and you’re decent-looking and have the ability to work in this industry, you have everything in the world. Then you attain those things and realize you still couldn’t be more empty. I didn’t know where to put myself.” […]
Pitt says he doubts his wife would call her choice to go public with her decisions brave, noting that “she’s never been a person who hides. She’s utterly forthcoming and sincere about who she is.” He adds that once she’s made up her mind, she’s always been unwavering about her choices. “I’ll tell you this about her surgeries: Once the decision was made, she was on the operating table two weeks later.”
If she was confident in her decision, she had painful reasons to be. “You have to understand that this is a woman who never knew she’d make it to 40,” Pitt says. “This is a woman who had watched her mother, aunt and grandmother become sick and eventually succumb, all at an early age. Her drive, her absolute value in herself, is defined by the impact she can have during her time here—for her kids and for the underprivileged and those suffering injustices.” […]
~ Julia Reed, The Examined Life of Angelina Jolie Pitt
Related Angelina Jolie Post: It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.
And I have dreamed
of the morning coming in
like a bird through the window
not burdened by a thought.
the light a singing,
as I had hoped.
Friday, November, 13th.
“Confiscated glitter spray at airport security…Mouldy bread…No caffeinated coffee…Cannot find simple persian rugs with cherub imagery…Lack of free time…Horrors of luxury travel…Mediocre meals…Rude customer service…The obnoxious guy at the next table…The Talkative taxi cab driver…A hostile airline ticket clerk…The interminable security line…The malodorous seatmate and crying baby.” Teddy Wayne, the author, continues in The Microcomplaint: Nothing Too Small to Whine About. “It was once considered unbecoming, or annoying itself, to moan publicly about trifling personal ordeals. Now, in a seismic shift for the moral culture, abetted by technology, we tolerate and even encourage the “microcomplaint”: the petty, petulant kvetch about the quotidian.”
I finish the article and mumble my POV: Micro b*tches and then tweet or blog the h*ll out of them. Can you believe these people? Grab a six-pack of perspective people!
Wednesday, November 18th.
5:40 a.m. Metro North to Grand Central.
Train whistle blows as it approaches.
I’m assessing the passenger load as the train cars pass. 5:40 and jammed.
There’s a single aisle seat open in a two seater.
My seat mate doesn’t raise his head from his magazine.
His oversized backpack sits on the floor between his legs.
His legs, spread wide, encroach. A Manspreader! In My Space. [Read more…]
How quiet it is.
Too soon to wake.
Too late to stop the mind.
A hamster on the wheel, spinning.
Duras: “How quiet it is,” […] “Who’d believe our nights are such an ordeal?”
In the Quiet Zone.
Ascending to de Botton’s higher consciousness. Or somewhere.
Alain de Botton: “Perhaps late at night or early in the morning (when there are no threats or demands on us), when our bodies and passions are comfortable and quiescent, we have the privilege of being able to access the higher mind …We loosen our hold on our own egos and ascend to a less biased and more universal perspective, casting off a little of the customary anxious self-justification and brittle pride.”
I do feel that ascension. Now if I could only park here.
Father and his daughter walk to train station. It’s 45° F. “It’s cold Dad.” I look down at her bare red legs pockmarked with goose bumps: “Why aren’t you wearing nylons?” She snaps back at me: “Really Dad? Nylons. Nobody wears Nylons anymore? That’s creepy.”
So, now I’m on the wrong side of 50 and creepy. OK, so it wasn’t a focus area. And, it’s not that I haven’t looked at women’s legs. And there you are, a flat stone skipping silently across the water, jumping decades of fashion revolution. [Read more…]